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Are you a leading lady? Or are you a best friend?

If you’re reading this, chances are you WANT to be the leading lady in your business, and in your life. But maybe you haven’t quite made that leap yet, or perhaps you’d like to feel more empowered, stepping into that Proper Business Owner role…

Today, I’m sharing inspiration from festive favourite The Holiday to give us some clarity and some gumption (great word) as we start to embrace our title role in our own lives.

I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched The Holiday a LOT. I can recite scenes, and there are lines I know by heart. This is one of them:

You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for god’s sake.

Iris, played by Kate Winslet, has a tear-inducing lightbulb moment when retired movie writer Arthur tells her she’s being more best friend than leading lady. It’s a lightbulb moment for all of us!

First of all, no shade to best friends. We all need best friends. And in real life (not the movies) we are meant to support each other in being the leading ladies of our own lives. My best friend, Kelly, is the leading lady of her life, and I support her journey. She also supports mine. And in a beautiful way, this happens in our businesses too. I’m a client of hers, and she’s a member of the Better Business Collective – and we lean on each other for different things.

But back to the point, here. Maybe you can relate to this…

In my early twenties, I was being a best friend. Not to one specific person, but to most other people and figures in my life. My boss at work, my family and friends, even the people on the tube, all had more importance than me. I would bend and flex to meet their needs, rather than asking for what I needed for my own sparkling storyline.

By my late twenties, I was a leading lady. Strong in my convictions, I stood up for what I thought was right, for what worked for me. I started my business, I put myself in the centre of my life, and it allowed me to contribute to my relationships, clients, and the things that mattered.

Now, in my (gulp) thirties, I have children, a marriage, a mortgage, and a business. The responsibilities are more complex than they were 7 years ago. I am in a new phase of being a leading lady, one that requires grace but also integrity. It requires putting myself at the centre of my story, even when mum guilt and society tell me to just play it small and quiet.

So how do we put being a leading lady into practice?

It’s a good question. Let’s use the movie metaphor a bit more…

In a movie, everything that happens – every action, scene, dialogue, piece of information – ultimately tells us more about the leading lady’s story. Anything that doesn’t move her narrative and development forward is superfluous.

So her best friend is there to provide insight. A challenging situation or accident or any external action is there to show us how she responds to it. Her enemy or antagonist is there to challenge her, help her grow, change her for the better.

I’m not suggesting we all turn into raging narcissists where everything is about us – far from it. I AM suggesting we consider our own storyline and development, noticing the things that take up our time and energy, and assess whether they are fuelling the story or getting us off-track.

✨ How does x thing (an event, a story, a person, a conversation) impact you? Is it helping you to move forward and grow, or is it holding you back?

✨ Are you holding your head high, knowing you belong wherever you go? Or are you apologising before you even enter the room?

✨ Do you recognise that your responsibility to yourself is greater than your responsibility to others? That, in fact, no-one else can be the boss of your life?

✨ What if you let yourself be the leading lady for the day, the week, a month?

✨ And are you willing to let your dream, your success, steal the show?

The thing is: being a leading lady is really about stepping into leadership, and I love that Arthur in The Holiday makes that something we can relate to. Because leadership can sometimes sound like suits and boardrooms and hotel conferences.

But what if leadership is being a leading lady? Commanding respect. Feeling empowered and empowering others. Taking actions that demonstrate your commitment to your dreams.

That’s the kind of leadership I can get on board with. I hope you will, too.

How to make better business decisions by balancing head and heart

I’m a big believer in balancing our heads and hearts as business owners, founders, and creatives. Building a business requires savvy decisions, smart strategy, and ongoing education, but building a business that’s right for you and aligns with the life you really want — that’s all heart, and maybe some soul too.

So as a small business owner, whether you’re a one-woman-band solopreneur or creative founder with a fantastic team supporting you, how do you engage both your whip-smart head and your super-strong heart?

Before I share three things that will help you use both, let me explain a bit about what happens when you’re out of balance.

Too headstrong (and not in a good way)

If you’re in your head too much, you probably experience some or all of these things:

  • You overthink everything
  • You get caught up in what other people are thinking or doing
  • You spend ages making decisions, even for small things
  • Or you make quick decisions, without really considering whether it’s the right option for you
  • You’re ticking all the boxes of what you “should” be doing, but you’re not seeing the results or feeling the satisfaction
  • You create new products and new marketing content regularly, but it doesn’t seem to connect with your customer base
  • You’ve reached a turnover or income plateau and don’t seem to be able to break through it

Our brains are really clever. Like, better-than-your-computer clever. But they also get stuck in problem-solving and worrying mode really easily. Unchecked, our heads are too logical (think Mr Spock in Star Trek) and have a tendency to lead us down paths that “make sense” but don’t feel good.

Too much heart

If you’re in your heart too much, there are some things you might experience:

  • You have no idea what you made last month, quarter, or year
  • You have lots of creative ideas, but not so much follow through
  • You find yourself doing a lot of tasks manually when they could be automated
  • You get caught out by unexpected bills you could have anticipated
  • Even though you have a team, you end up doing too much yourself because you aren’t managing the people or the work effectively
  • You spend a lot on pretty things or fun-sounding education, but you don’t see an ROI
  • You often under-price your products and services, or offer discounts
  • You LOVE to go with the flow, but important tasks get neglected until they’re really urgent (I see you, tax return avoiders)

Our hearts are our pathfinders. They’re the creative epicentre of our lives and businesses. All things considered, I believe our hearts and souls are the best bosses. But without the wisdom and savvy of our minds, they can get a bit floaty, a bit ungrounded, and kind of exhausted.

In balance

When our heads and hearts are in balance, we’re in flow. We’ve got the gorgeous creative direction, the vision, and the unique creativity that we’re here to share. Plus we’ve got structure and systems that help us to stay creative – and stay in business.

You might find that you nodded your head to some things on the head list AND some things on the heart list. That’s not unusual. It means that you’re giving your heart some of the head’s jobs and vice versa. Balance means you’re strong and healthy in both areas.

Balance is a verb rather than a noun – it’s something we practice rather than something we achieve.

So how can we practice balance between head and heart more?

  1. Give your brain information

Because our brains are super-computers, they thrive when they have accurate data to play with. When we give our brains information, it filters into our unconscious, giving our “gut” (aka subconscious / heart / soul) more powerful responses.

In practice, this means reviewing your sales figures regularly (I’d say once a month), understanding what your bestsellers are, checking your most popular search terms or website pages, and checking how customers actually reach your website. There might be other pieces of data you want to feed your brain, but these are some good starting points.

  1. Let your heart do the talking

Once your brain has data, it will filter it through to your heart. Which means we can fully trust our hearts to be the strongest compass for our decisions and our direction.

If something looks right but feels wrong, that’s your brain doing the talking. If something looks weird but feels really right, that’s your heart and soul shining through. 

  1. Hire your brain as your heart’s VA

Ever fancy getting a virtual assistant to get things done? Your brain is a really, really good VA. When you let your heart set the agenda, figuring out your vision and where you want to go, you can then plug in your brain to do that tippity top problem-solving it’s so good at.

Your head can check out the numbers on that new product you’ve designed to make sure they add up. Or perhaps you set your head the task of creating a nice smooth process for your order management so that your heart has space to create and dream and feel passionate about what you’re doing.

Whatever you do, don’t let your heart do your mind’s job – or vice versa.

So, are you more head or more heart? What can you do to regain some balance and make wiser business decisions?

Jenny x

PS If you’d like to learn how to feed your brain good data and then let your heart lead, this free workshop is for you.

The whole damn cake

A few years ago, I was in a relationship that – it turned out – didn’t really work for me. In many ways it was fun and exciting and adventurous, but something was amiss. The guy I was with was kind of aloof, and it felt like, no matter what I did, I didn’t get the love or time or affection I really wanted.

My coach at the time, Rachel Cole (whom I adore), is all about living a well-fed life, and she had the perfect food-based metaphor.

She said, “You feel like you’re gathering up the crumbs from under the table, when what you really want is the whole damn cake.”

Well. Rachel put words to something I had been feeling intensely, but hadn’t been able to articulate. I hadn’t even known I was allowed to want anything other than what I had. (This, for the record, is one of the moments that made me fall in love with coaching…)

In fact, it felt like I’d been wanting the whole damn cake my whole damn life: relationships, work, friendships, family, food – everything.

It wasn’t just this one relationship in which I was gathering the crumbs from someone else’s table. The metaphor applied to almost everything.

This was probably the moment I woke up from my frustration in my job, and started wanting to ask for the whole cake in my career (which brought me to starting my own business…).

I share this story because I’ve heard variations from my clients, too. They want the whole damn cake: the support they really need, the success they really deserve.

We can be guilty of making do with just the crumbs in our businesses as well as our love lives, thinking we don’t deserve even a slice.

Or maybe we kind of forget that there even IS a big old cake available, we’re so used to crumbs.

Like me in that relationship, we have to figure out how to ask for more. (And sometimes we have to go someplace else where they sell cakes, because it turns out that this place doesn’t have whole cakes available, or perhaps not the flavour that we really want…)

If you feel like you’ve been gathering crumbs, I invite you to grab a notebook or have a conversation with a friend, and perhaps consider the following questions and ideas, designed to help you ask for, discover, or even bake your own whole damn cake:

What does the cake you want right now look like? If you take the metaphor as far as you can, what do you want from the sponge, the icing, the decorations? What flavour is it? What ingredients does it use? What could these things mean to you?

When you see the cake, take the first bite, enjoy it over a few days – what does that feel like? What would be different if you went from gathering crumbs to having the whole damn cake?

How could you ask for the whole damn cake? Would it be asking for the help you really want, carving out the time to be creative, pricing your products appropriately? Or perhaps something else?

How could you learn to make your own cake? Maybe you’d learn about cultivating your audience and making your marketing really effective so that you get the results you want. Maybe you’d learn about scalable income or wholesaling your products. Maybe you’d learn about adding in strong foundations to your business so that it becomes really enjoyable and satisfying to run (aka eat!).

I share this story and these prompts because we all deserve to have the whole damn cake. We don’t need to scrabble around on the floor for crumbs, left over from someone else’s perfect cake.

My job is to take clients from feeling frustrated, feeling stuck, and feeling overwhelmed to feeling confident, clear, and courageous. Normally this requires heavy doses of defining success on your own terms – making up your OWN recipe, rather than following someone else’s. (You like the darker chocolate for the icing, right? Or the frosted rose petals? Or maybe a perfectly ripe, perfectly organic lemon drizzle…)

The cake, to me, symbolises more joy, more fulfilment, and having business and life in flow.

How about you?

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